Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Skip Your Workout

Deciding to exercise sometime in the future is easy. In fact, you often make that decision when you’re rested, energetic, and motivated. What happens when the time comes to actually do it?

You may hear a little voice in your head saying, “I’m so tired and I’d rather sleep in than exercise. Um, maybe I could do it later.”

Skipping your workout may be the right decision, especially if you’re sick or injured. Other times, there isn’t a good reason, but that voice in your head just won’t stop. Before you skip your workout, there are a few questions to ask yourself that may help you make the right choice.

Woman stretching on a track

Getty Images / Eva Blanco / EyeEm


Will You Regret This Decision?

Maybe it would feel good to stay in bed and sleep or go home from work without the hassle of going to the gym, but how will you feel later? Instant gratification can be rewarding, but that good feeling often wears off, leaving you feeling guilty and wishing you’d made a different choice.

Thinking about the consequences may push you to make the right decision. Remind yourself that:

  • Exercise is a choice, not a jail sentence. Knowing you're in charge of what you do may nudge you in the right direction.
  • Every day is different. You may have to work harder sometimes to get motivated.

Exercise is a commitment you make every day. Some days you're less committed than others, so you'll need to draw on discipline to get you out the door.


How Much Have You Exercised This Week?

Look back at what you’ve done this week. If it’s the end of the week and you’ve worked out every day, you may need a day off to let your body recover and reenergize.

If it’s been a few days, however, ask yourself if skipping workouts is starting to become a habit. Will skipping another workout make it even harder to get back on track tomorrow?​

Now is a good time to start an exercise calendar to keep track of your workouts. Print out a monthly calendar and write the workouts you’ve done and the workouts you plan to do. Keep it nearby so you can look at it whenever the urge to skip strikes.


How Will You Make Up for Your Missed Workout?

Will you do it later, maybe after work or before bed? Or will you get up early tomorrow and work out extra long? Visualize that and ask yourself if you’ll really do it or if you’re setting yourself up for failure.

If you do change your schedule, decide you can work out later only if you prepare for it ahead of time. For post-work exercise, pack your gym bag before you leave or get out your equipment and clothes so you can change as soon as you get home.

If you’re exercising the next morning, put your workout clothes next to the bed and write your workout plan. Put the note on top of your clothes so you won’t skip it tomorrow.


Do You Have a Legitimate Reason to Skip This Workout?

Sometimes, skipping a workout is the best idea. If you’re sick, tired, or injured, you may need to rest. If it’s a matter of motivation, think about or even write down anything that might motivate you.

  • Remind yourself of all of the benefits of exercise.
  • Imagine all the people working out now. If they can do it, so can you.
  • Think of how good you’ll feel when you’ve finished your workout.
  • Remember that getting started is the hardest part. Commit to doing your warm-up. If you can get that far, you'll keep going.

Keep trying until you find something that works. Then keep your list handy for the next time.


How Will Missing This Workout Affect Your Goals?

If you’re trying to lose weight, how important is this workout? Exercising burns calories, builds endurance, and improves strength. If you skip it, none of that will happen. Try these ideas:

  • Remember your goals. Write them down and remember how you felt when you set them. Even if the urgency isn’t the same, it may be enough to get you started.
  • Get some support. Have a friend email a workout reminder, or tell someone close to you about your goals so you’re held accountable.
  • Set new goals. If your goals aren’t motivating now, set a new goal to complete your workout that day. Making your goals smaller may help you reach them.

Maybe missing one day won’t hurt. But it’s accumulating your workouts that lead to success.


What Could You Do to Make Your Workout More Appealing?

If you’re dreading the coming workout, having something to look forward to may get you moving. Some ideas:

  • Try a long warm-up. Knowing you’ll have plenty of time to get ready for exercise may make it easier to get started.
  • Listen to a new playlist. The right music makes any workout more fun. Download new music or create a playlist. Put your favorite song first to start your workout on the right foot.
  • Try a long cool-down. Spend extra time stretching after your workout to end things on a good note.
  • Work out with a friend. If you’re dragging, ask a friend to work out with you. Having to show up is motivating all by itself.

How Could You Reward Yourself for Doing Your Workout?

When it comes to exercise, a little reward goes a long way towards motivation. If you’re having trouble getting started, think of how you could reward yourself for a job well done. Some ideas:

  • Sitting in a hot tub or hot bath after your workout
  • Time to read your favorite book or watch your favorite TV show
  • A massage
  • A night out with friends
  • Going to a movie
  • Time to play your favorite video or computer game
  • A new workout outfit

You deserve a reward for working hard and if it motivates you to finish your workout, it's worth it.


How Could You Change Your Workout?

If you’re thinking of ditching your workout because you woke up late or had to work longer than usual, don’t skip the whole thing.

Think of creative ways to get in a short, effective workout that will get the job done. If you have 10 or 15 minutes, try an intense interval workout. Warm up with a brisk walk and then alternate high-intensity sprints or speed walking for 30 seconds with recovery walks for 30 seconds.

Choose a few whole body exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, or cross-country shuffles and go through a circuit, doing each one for a minute.


How Will Skipping Your Workout Affect Your Day?

Your workout isn’t just important for burning calories. It can affect every part of your day, both physically and mentally. Remind yourself that doing your workout will:

  • Give you more energy
  • Improve your confidence and self-satisfaction
  • Start your day on the right foot
  • Help you concentrate better
  • Help you get more things done
  • Allow you to actively re-commit to your goals

Exercise is one of the few things you can do that seeps into all areas of your life. Just a few minutes and a little sweat will pay off in the long run.


What Stands In the Way of Your Workout?

Identify the thoughts stopping you from exercise and work through each one logically. Some common thoughts:

  • "I’m too tired." After working all day, your mind is tired, but your body will feel better once it starts moving.
  • "I’m too hungry." Have some yogurt or a sports drink. You’ll get an immediate infusion of energy to make it to the gym.
  • "I don’t feel like it." Don't wait until you feel like it, because that may not happen. Once you get started, you’ll be more excited about your workout.
  • "I have too much to do." You'll get more done if you put fitness first. Even a short workout is worth doing.
  • "I'll do it later." It’s harder to work out when life gets hectic. Get your workout in early to guarantee your success.
6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."